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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

VANGELIS: Rosetta (2016)

A great comeback album which is may not be his best, but it is a very good one

1 Origins (Arrival) 4:21

2 Starstuff 5:15

3 Infinitude 4:30

4 Exo Genesis 3:33

5 Celestial Whispers 2:31

6 Albedo 0.06 4:45

7 Sunlight 4:22

8 Rosetta 5:02

9 Philae's Descent 3:05

10 Mission Accomplie (Rosetta's Waltz) 2:12

11 Perihelion 6:35

12 Elegy 3:07

13 Return to the Void 4:20

Decca – 570063

(CD/DDL 53:35) (V.F.)

(Cosmic, Sci-fi, Orchestral, Cinema)

What a nice surprise this comeback album of Vangelis. ROSETTA is an album based on a conversation between astronaut André Kuipers and the Greek musician-magician who was in the International Space Station in London in 2012. The cosmonaut had just shared his emotions about the intersidereal void in space. This subject captured the imagination of Vangelis who locked himself in the studio to compose his first cosmic symphony since the cosmic opera Mythodea in 2001.

A dull explosion releases a smoke filled with humming; Origins (Arrival) reaches our ears with these synth layers announcing a large-scale musical-cinema event. Flickering effects surround this musical drama, as only Vangelis' signature can do. A sweeping, almost cathedral-like opening rolls over the symphonic bass drums to be caught by a cloud of sonic graffiti, like a storm of musical flakes. This titanic opening finds a respite when Starstuff is born from its fury to offer a structure discreetly jumping under moon breezes and sound effects complementary to this musical violence which finds refuge and rest here. Serene, the music gives the effect of crumbling into several small sound fragments that the cosmic winds try to put back in place, escaping some fragments that become dust and then these musical stars that adorn the firmaments of the man to whom we owe Blade Runner. Moreover, we find these perfumes in the drift of Starstuff whose keyboard draws a dramatic philharmonic landscape. It is from the remains of this finale that the splendid ballad Infinitude clings to our earlobes. Dreamy and romantic piano, symphonic synth layers and celestial voices form a splendid lunar ballad that melts to give life to an acoustic/electronic rock. Nervous piano lines that overlap and intertwine their destinies on dissipated percussions and sparse orchestral impulses, the descent of Exo Genesis is softened by this bed of orchestrations that fail to contain that wild aspect that Vangelis exploited in the 70's. Oh that the piano is exceptional here! There was one on every album back then! I'm talking about a beautiful lunar lullaby. A slow song heard with eyes full of tears until the iris drowns, and the one on Celestial Whispers is simply magical. Arpeggios turn in spiral, caressing in the passage these ears in search of tenderness and human security. Wonderful!

A static title with apocalyptic scents, Albedo 0.06 puts us back the ideas in the Cosmos with an ambient movement where sparks a swarm of sequenced arpeggios twirling in orchestral layers a bit dramatic and well stunned by the Babylonian percussions. These gurgling arpeggios are lost in the softness of Sunlight which respects the ideology behind its title with a music resplendent with life. The orchestrations are woven in the emotionality with an orchestral crescendo to give shivers. In this intense cosmic and orchestral universe, the title piece stands out with its musical vision that would fit very well with the afternoon soaps of American television. A beautiful melody played by a guitar or a harp extracted from the synth on discrete orchestral impulses weaving these waves on which the music can lean. Dissonant and charming! The frenetic violins of Philae's Descent are reminiscent of albums such as China and Antartica. The staccatos are lively and violent, responding to the symphonic percussion attacks. It is pure Vangelis that attacks our ears, on these two tracks and the magnificent Mission Accomplished (Rosetta's Waltz) and these splendid orchestrations that make us think of the soundtracks of Alexander and even Chariots of Fire. All this brings us to the very surprising Perihelion and its very Berlin School vintage sequencer movement, like Tangerine Dream from the Stratosfear years. Symphonic Berlin School! There is only Vangelis to think about that! The second part is more violent with percussive effects and a fascinating raging guitar like Edgar's. A little more and I think that the Greek musician pays tribute to Edgar Froese who now has his cosmic address. These more than 6 minutes have gone so quickly! Elegy is a beautiful cosmic lullaby centered on string instruments. We waltz with the shadows of the stars on this track. Return to the Void is the only place on ROSETTA where we feel the sensation of emptiness. And even there, the emptiness is not total since the resonance of the keyboard chords makes rodeo on the oscillations of the bass pulsations. It is when they stop undulating with the arpeggios that the sound of emptiness resounds in our ears. But before all that, Vangelis has put a superb electronic and cosmic symphony into our amazed ears.

This review was planned a long time ago, but with the continuous avalanche of new arrivals to review, I ended up forgetting. An omission that I fix with the arrival of Juno to Jupiter that I'll review soon. But in the meantime, the great Vangelis made quite a comeback with ROSETTA by achieving as before his cosmic vision with a superb collection of tracks that brings us back to such pivotal works as China, Heaven & Hells and even Chariots of Fire. It may not be the best, but it is a very good one!

Sylvain Lupari (October 7th, 2021) ****¼*

Available at Groove nl

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